I never felt more fake.
My earliest memories of working in sales were more of a nightmare than a daydream.
I was sitting in my car trying to psyche myself up for a cold call in this dump of town we’ll call Mullberry. Before me was a nice, welcoming “no solicitation” sign and a guy who had a face so sour, it could make a lemon look sweet.
He was eyeing me down with apprehension, like how you watch your neighbor’s dog after it drops a nice juicy shit on your front lawn.
And there I sat, sweating, wondering how in the Hell I was supposed to cold call him. I was scared out of my mind.
My manager gave me the vanilla-ass-advice “just be confident”, but how can you be confident when you feel anything but?
I stepped out of my car and gingerly approached the door like I was feeling for a landmine with each step. And when I reached the door, I exploded.
That man gave a tongue-lashing so bad, he probably should start a second career in OnlyFans.
But in the pain and embarrassment of being epically rejected, I learned the most important lesson that still serves me to this day.
How to be confident.
Confidence isn’t what you think it is
When most people think about the concept of confidence, they think about Hollywood. They think about a James Bond type who always knows the magic words to melt hearts and mine gold.
But here’s the thing. Most things you see on TV aren’t real — it’s made up, including how you think of confidence. Of course, James Bond knows what to say; someone wrote his lines. In reality, real confidence isn’t what you think it is. Real confidence is having the assurance you can do something.
This means having confidence is more situational and less absolute. I have confidence I can tie my shoes, but I don’t have the confidence I can go to a foreign country and become a dopey tour guide. I have confidence I can start a computer, but I don’t have the confidence I can disassemble an army-issued rifle. My 84-year-old, veteran father is the exact opposite.
The truth is you already have confidence in certain aspects, whether it’s playing a game, the best way to get around town, or even something as simple as making a dynamite dinner that’ll make your husband purr — whatever the Hell that means.
So the real question becomes what do you want to be confident about?
You need direction
The way to obtaining confidence in any situation is to first define an outcome. After all, if we don’t know where we’re going, how in the Hell are we supposed to get there? So what do you want to be confident in?
Is it confidence in introducing yourself to strangers? Confidence to ask for a raise? Or even the confidence to do a cold call and not get frozen by a cold shoulder. Without direction, we have no goal.
Start your search
Now that you have a goal, you have an advantage that makes college deans tremble in their $40,000-tuition-bought-boots. Your phone.
In a matter of seconds, you can learn from the absolute best in any field as quickly as you can say Youtube. And this my friends, is the building block of confidence — understanding.
If you want to start feeling more confident and less like a phony, you’ll feel more confident once you understand at some level what you’re trying to do.
Afterall, we feel unconfident when we feel unprepared. Therefore, the easiest way to begin getting some momentum is to understand what you’re trying to do. It breeds familiarity and familiarity breeds’ comfort. Comfort in a situation breeds confidence.
Ahh secrets, who doesn’t love a good secret?
The secret to gaining confidence in any situation isn’t to stand in front of a mirror and scream I’m the greatest like a psychopath. (I know this from experience.)
The secret is to get out in the streets and start to practice. You need reps in order to learn a skill and gain confidence in it. Competence is how you create confidence. Competence is how you don’t feel like a phony.
In my sales world, while I did get rejected more times than an author trying to publish a novel — eventually it kind of stopped. I got good and confident in my cold call ability after doing it about 4,000 times.
Hell, if you do anything 4,000 times, you’re probably going to gain some confidence in it.
And whatever your goal is, the path is no different. You need to earn your stripes in order to feel confident and less like a phony. Because it’s impossible to feel like a phony if you’re the real deal.
Remember, you’re human — don’t fall for Hollywood’s tricks
In life we have this idea that confidence is without doubt. But we’re human; there’s always going to be a little nugget of doubt, just like there’s always going to be a hair that won’t stand up straight. Like I said, we’re human and that’s ok.
Doing something anyway even when you’re slightly apprehensive, is a part of the confidence package. Remember, real confidence doesn’t look like the James Bond type. Real confidence looks like you in the mirror.
So get out in the world, and practice the skill you want to become confident in. Because as sure as the sun rises, the more you do anything, the more confident you’ll become in your skills.
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